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Moms Demand Action Group Advocacy Trip

How to Fight Gun Violence with Shannon Watts and Moms Demand Action

About This Episode

Moms Demand Action began the day after the Sandy Hook shooting, which claimed the lives of 28 people, including 20 children.

Shannon Watts, a mother of five, knew she needed to do something — so she moved into action to end gun violence.

She started Moms Demand Action, a non-partisan grassroots movement of moms who fight for stronger gun laws in America and encourage responsible gun ownership.

Moms Demand Action has a volunteer chapter in every state plus Washington, D.C.

Their work includes advocating for universal background checks, disarming domestic abusers, and responsible gun storage.

Volunteers at their Gun Sense Action Network spend one hour per week driving phone calls into lawmaker’s offices or recruiting new supporters into the movement.

Activist Crystal Turner also shares the story of how her life has changed since losing two of her children to gun violence in 2015.

Crystal turned her pain into purpose and is now a dedicated activist working with Moms Demand Action to push for common-sense gun reform.

She also founded Mothers in Healing, a nonprofit that provides grief counseling for mothers who have lost a child.


Guests:

Shannon Watts: founder of Moms Demand Action

Crystal Turner: activist, Moms Demand Action advocate, and founder of Mothers in Healing


Action Steps:

Text the word READY to 64433 to get involved with gun reform work where you live, visit Moms Demand Action’s national or state-specific Facebook pages, follow @momsdemand on Twitter and Instagram, and buy Shannon’s book, “Fight Like a Mother”


Background Reading:

Listen

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Transcript

Branden Harvey

Every day, 100 people are shot and killed in the United States, and gun violence is a uniquely American problem.


Branden Harvey

That's part of the heartbreak of it. We have a gun homicide rate 25 times higher than that of other high-income countries. Gun violence is clearly a problem in the United States, and it can be a really heartbreaking and overwhelming one. But change is possible, especially when 90% of Americans support common-sense gun laws like universal background checks. But it feels like progress is slow. But as always, we found people who are stepping up to make a huge difference in the fight against gun violence.


Branden Harvey

This is Sounds Good. I'm Branden Harvey. Our first guest today is Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action. After the Sandy Hook shooting claimed the lives of 28 people, including 20 children. Shannon moved into action to end gun violence. She started Moms Demand Action, a nonpartisan grassroots movement that fights for stronger gun laws in America and encourages responsible gun ownership. I spoke with Shannon about why moms are uniquely poised to make a difference in fighting gun violence, why America has higher rates of gun violence and why we can be encouraged by incremental change. And she shared simple action steps for getting involved.


Branden Harvey

I also got to talk with activist Crystal Turner, who tragically lost two of her children to gun violence in 2015. Crystal now works with Moms Demand Action as a dedicated and passionate advocate for common-sense gun laws. She's also the founder of Mothers in Healing, a grief counseling initiative for mothers who have lost children to gun violence. I spoke with Crystal about how her life has changed since losing her children and how she now helps mothers cope, heal, and find hope. I love this conversation. I'm so glad we got to have it, so let's jump straight into it.

Branden Harvey and Shannon Watts


Branden Harvey

I want to go back and kind of just start at the beginning of Moms Demand — back before it was Moms Demand. And it sounds like for you, your inciting moments. I think anybody who becomes an activist or decides to take action on something has some sort of inciting moment. But your inciting moment, it seems, was the Sandy Hook shooting that took the lives of 20 children between the ages of six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members.


Branden Harvey

And I'd like to begin our conversation there. Can you just take me back to that day in your life and what was going through your head at the time?


Shannon Watts

I was a stay-at-home mom of five in Indianapolis, and my kids were kind of all over the age range from elementary to College. And I was folding laundry. And it was December 14, 2012. And I saw on my TV that there was an active shooter in Newtown, Connecticut, a city I had never heard of. And like everyone else in the country, I was sort of riveted to my television and just couldn't believe the horrific video footage of children and adults streaming out of the school into the Woods through the parking lot looking terrorized.


Shannon Watts

But then over the next few hours already there were pundits and politicians also on my TV telling me that somehow this was because this tragedy happened because there weren't enough guns and that more guns, like armed teachers, would have somehow prevented this tragedy. And it just made me so angry. I knew that was not true. I didn't know anything about gun violence or gun laws or organizing. I just knew that that wasn't true. So I went online and I thought, okay, I'm going to join something like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.


Shannon Watts

But for the issue of gun safety and I couldn't find anything. Mothers Against Drunk driving had been so pivotal to me and my generation as a teen in the 80s, I just assumed that that existed. And what I found were sort of one-off think tanks run by men, some city and state organizations also run by men. And what I have seen create change so often in this country is a badass army of women. And that's what I wanted to be a part of. And so I started a Facebook page and that online conversation has become the largest offline movement in the country.


Branden Harvey

What were those initial posts in that Facebook page like, what was the emotion? What was the energy like?


Shannon Watts

It was very much. And I was running the Facebook page actually did for years. And it was it is time to get off the sidelines. And in particular, I think I was talking to white women who too many of us and shame on us came to this movement because we were afraid our children weren't saving their schools. But we know that black and brown women have been doing this work with very little attention for decades. And it was a call to action to finally use our voices and our votes on this issue.


Shannon Watts

And also, I think it was let's march, let's rally. And in retrospect, I think that makes sense. But it wasn't what we needed to do. What we needed to do. And we learned soon thereafter was to organize just like the NRA had been doing for decades.


Branden Harvey

Maybe you could break that down a little bit more for me, because I do see that there's value in a March or a protest. But you're saying there's more to it than that. What made you come to that conclusion? Why do you think that it's more effective to go a level deeper?


Shannon Watts

A one-off march or a rally or even a series of them across the country are fine, and they drive media attention. But it's a very short-term action. And what is often needed is what I call the unglamorous heavy lifting of grassroots activism. It is hard to organize. It's painstaking. Sometimes it's heartbreaking. It drips on a rock when everyone wants wholesale revolutions, which I totally get. It's not how the system is set up. The system is set up for incremental change. And if you don't commit to that incrementalism and accept that that is what leads to revolutions, you won't have any change at all.


Shannon Watts

And so we decided a couple of months in that we would have to, just like the gun lobby had done create volunteers in every single city in every single state, and that we would have to show up at every gun bill hearing and at school board meetings and city council meetings. And, yes, that we would need to work on this at a federal level, too. But that building the momentum sort of started in the communities where we lived.


Branden Harvey

So you start to organize this community of people who are themselves organizing to create change. Tell me about that growth and that snowball effect, because I understand it started off big, and then it grew to get bigger. What is the process of growing a movement like that, like?


Shannon Watts

Well, I would say it started with social media, and we've all heard stories about how a website or a post or a tweet has gone viral and just generated a lot of activity. And that was very much what happened in this circumstance. Our Facebook page was attracting volunteers, but also gun extremists. And it was something that ended up putting me on the front page of USA Today just a few weeks after I started mom's me in action. And so it started online. I was working on this with perfect strangers all across the country who I just sort of trusted to be as passionate about this as I was and to bring skill sets.


Shannon Watts

I didn't have to the table. And we started a Facebook page for every single state. In addition to our main Facebook page, I had an inactive Twitter handle. And so we started Tweeting, and it wasn't too long afterward that we got a call from the White House. And they said in honor of the Sandy Hook School mass shooting, we are going to work to pass something called Mansion. To me, it was a bipartisan bill to close the background check loophole. Right now in this country, you have to have a background check when you buy a gun from a licensed dealer, but not from an unlicensed dealer.


Shannon Watts

And that is a loophole that has been closed down in 21 States, but not at a federal level. And so when you don't have to buy guns from an unlicensed dealer, that means you can get them at gun shows or online or even at garage sales in some States. So we really put a lot of our time and attention toward that boat, which happened in the spring of 2013. And we all thought, oh, yeah, of course this is going to pass. Of course, our lawmakers will act after 20 children and six educators were killed in the sanctity of an American elementary school.


Shannon Watts

And I was sitting in the Senate Gallery when it Kailey by six votes, four of those Democratic senators. And it was a pivotal moment because we could have said, okay, well, we tried, we failed. The country isn't ready for this. Let's go back to our normal lives. But our volunteers are very sophisticated and brilliant. And what they said was let's pivot and start doing this work in our state houses and in our boardrooms where we live. If you look at marriage equality now, in retrospect, that's exactly what they did, right.


Shannon Watts

They worked in their communities, knowing the momentum would eventually point the right person in the right Congress in the right direction and the right Supreme Court. And so we had some governors in some States who were willing to pass stronger gun laws after the Sandy Hook school shooting. But we also saw some legislators actually doing the opposite and trying to Ram through the NRA's agenda. I never imagined how much time we'd spent playing defense, not just offensive. And we've done an amazing job, I think, at the state level and passing good gun bills, but stopping bad gun bills.


Shannon Watts

We have a 90% track record of stopping the NRA's agenda year after year for the last five years.


Branden Harvey

Wow.


Shannon Watts

And those were laws that were really just sailing through state houses before moms to be in action, also doing this work legislatively but also electorally. So being a part of every single election cycle, spending money endorsing candidates running our own volunteers and gun violent survivors in this last election cycle, 100 of them ran 43. One, which is a pretty amazing track record.


Branden Harvey

That's huge.


Shannon Watts

Two of our volunteers are now members of Congress Lucy McBath and Marie Newman. And then I would say the third leg of the stool is really the cultural work we do. So teaching people about secure gun storage through our B Smart program over a million families have received our materials through schools or pediatrician's offices and also making sure that celebrities and influencers and athletes and artists are also involved in the movement, and also companies. We have gotten several hundred companies to change their policies around open carry or gun sales in the last eight and a half years.


Shannon Watts

So it's a lot of work. But here we are less than a decade later, and we're larger than the NRA, and I don't even know that they have as many members as they pretend to have. So the NRA is weaker than it's ever been. And our movement is stronger than it's ever been.


Branden Harvey

You decided intentionally to have this be of movement centered around Moms, and I would love for you to share, like, what is the superpower behind moms? Like, what is the unique impact that moms bring to the table? And why was that the missing ingredient in this movement?


Shannon Watts

A couple of things. One is I do think that women are the secret sauce to activism, and we've seen that again all the way from Prohibition, when women were first allowed to get involved in activism and men were never really able to put that toothpaste back in the bottle all the way to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, it's really been often women who are on the front lines and who are forcing change. But the other piece of it is when you look at who makes up the NRA's leadership and membership.


Shannon Watts

When you look at who makes up our lawmakers and our business leaders, the vast majority of them are men. Only 20% of the 500,000 elected positions in this country are held by women, and we're only about 5% of Fortune 1000 CEOs. So we don't have all of the levers of power available to us to make the laws or the policies that protect our families and our communities. But there are certain levers of power we have available to us. One is our voice, so being activist, the other is our vote.


Shannon Watts

Women are the majority of the voting elected and also our spending power. We make about 80% of the spending decisions for our families. So those are really the levers of power that we've been pulling.


Branden Harvey

So for me, all of this sounds incredibly common sense. All of these pivots, these changes, the progress that we're making. And it sounds like the polling supports that as well, that most Americans agree that there needs to be some common-sense gun reform happening in this country. What would you say to somebody who thinks that you want to take their guns?


Shannon Watts

It's really important to understand that we are not anti-gun. We are anti-gun violence. Many of our volunteers are gun owners or their partners are gun owners. There are nearly 400 million guns in this country, 50 million sold in the last year alone. This is not about undoing the Second Amendment or taking away people's weapons. This is simply about restoring the responsibilities that should go along with gun rights and do in other countries with high rates of gun ownership. There's a reason America has a 25 times higher gun homicide rate than any pure nation.


Shannon Watts

And we know that's because of easy, unfettered access to guns, why do we have that? Well, something else America has that no other country has, which is an incredibly powerful and wealthy special interests called the gun lobby. And they have worked very hard to enrich gun manufacturers by loosening gun laws and making sure that there are guns for anyone anywhere, anytime, no questions asked. And so this is not again about undoing the Second Amendment. This is simply about responsibility. And we know 90% of Americans support common-sense gun laws, like a background check on every gun sale, 89% of gun owners and only one in ten even belong to the NRA.


Shannon Watts

And then 87% of Republicans. So the only place where this is polarizing is in the US Senate.


Branden Harvey

And so what we have to do is we just have to make sure that our representation is representative of the people that they serve.


Shannon Watts

That's right. And I do think there are some lawmakers who have drunk the Kool Aid. They really do believe the NRA's disinformation, particularly in state houses. Some of them are gun extremists. But also there are plenty of lawmakers, particularly Republicans, who are just playing from an old playbook. They deep down inside, know that there are ways to prevent deaths from gun violence. They know the right thing to do is to pass stronger gun laws, but they're still sort of operating from this 1990’s playbook. That's why I always say our job is to show lawmakers over and over again.


Shannon Watts

If you do the right thing, we'll have your back. If you do the wrong thing, we'll have your job. And when I talked about that vote on Mansion to me, where four of the six senators were Democrats, not a single one of them still has their job. And in fact, in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected, about a quarter of all Democrats in Congress, Democratic lawmakers had a ratings from the NRA today. None do again. As I said, it's incremental. It takes a while. But I do believe at some point Republicans will be on the same side, which is the right side of history.


Branden Harvey

I think this is a perfect pivot over to good news. As you know, we love talking about good news here. And you alluded to this earlier, you have created so much new positive legislation, fought back against lots of negative legislation. But the reality is I feel like a lot of people still feel like we are losing this battle against gun violence, and it just feels like it's just so overwhelming and heartbreaking. Why do you think it is that we feel so overwhelmed by the badness around the world of gun violence?


Branden Harvey

And maybe we aren't hearing enough about the good news of the progress that we're making against this important issue.


Shannon Watts

Well, I think people are waiting for this cathartic moment in Congress that hasn't come. And it's been about 25 years since Congress passed significant gun safety legislation, but to focus only on Congress is to negate all of the amazing work that has been done on this issue. We have passed background checks now in 21 States, we have passed laws that disarm domestic abusers in 29 States. We have passed laws that close what's called the Charleston Loophole in 19 States, we've passed red flag laws in 19 States, and truly, we're all only as safe as the closest state with the weakest gun laws.


Shannon Watts

So that is why we need them at a federal level. But we really have been working on this again less than a decade, knowing that eventually the momentum we created would point the right President and the right Congress in the right direction. And I believe this is that moment. Within the first 100 days of his presidency, Joe Biden has done more than any President in history on this issue. Not only is he encouraging Congress to pass background checks and other laws or other bills that have passed through the House already, but he has put in place several executive actions that will save lives immediately, whether it's regulating the market for ghost guns, appointing an ATF director giving over a billion dollars to city gun violence intervention programs.


Shannon Watts

I really feel like we're on the precipice finally of major national change.


Branden Harvey

This is so energizing to hear. And in a second, we are going to take a break and jump into another conversation I got to have with one of your incredible Moms Demand volunteers, Crystal. But before we make that little transition over, I want to ask if there's a particular good news story of the last few years that you just feel like most energized about the behind-the-scenes work that led to that good news story.


Shannon Watts

If you look at the story of Virginia, if you had told me that in less than eight years, Virginia would be a gun sense state, I wouldn't have believed you back in 2012. In fact, at that point, the US senators like Mark Warner were voting with the NRA, and our volunteers just grew such a robust chapter in the state. And I can remember after the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Republicans were in charge of the legislature. The governor called a special session on guns. They adjourned it. Republicans did without any action.


Shannon Watts

After just a matter of seconds and our volunteers decided they were going to double down that they were going to fight tooth and nail to change the Legislature as repercussion for that vote. And they did. I can remember sitting in Richmond, Virginia, the night of the election in 2019 thinking, okay, we'll get lucky if we flip one Chamber by a few votes and we flipped both Chambers of the General Assembly. One of the top three voting issues was gun safety. And since then, nearly ten new good gun laws have been signed.


Branden Harvey

Wow.


Shannon Watts

And that includes background checks and other important life saving laws. So it's a marathon, not a sprint, but eventually, if you get involved, you will win the race.

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Branden Harvey

We're going to take a quick break and when we come back, we are joined by activist Crystal Turner, who is so incredible. I loved getting to talk with her and I know you're going to love hearing from her. We'll be right back.


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Branden Harvey and Crystal Turner


Branden Harvey

Crystal, I'm so glad to get to talk with you today. Where are we talking from? Where in the world are you today?


Crystal Turner

The sunny city of Jacksonville, Florida, the largest city in the United States of America.


Branden Harvey

Megan, from my team who helps work on good things, lives in Jacksonville. And I've heard wonderful things. And also, you guys are getting great weather right now. I understand.


Crystal Turner

Yes, we are. So I'm hoping I'm sending sunrays to everyone who's listening.


Branden Harvey

I could use it. So thank you. And I understand you just got back from an advocacy trip. Is that right?


Crystal Turner

That is correct.


Crystal Turner

Yes.


Crystal Turner

In Ohio, I traveled back to Columbus, Ohio, which is the city that I lived in for the past 30 years.


Branden Harvey

Tell me about what you were doing while you were up in Columbus.


Crystal Turner

It was last minute ideal. But on a previous call, someone shared with me that there is actually an international bereaved Mother's Mother's Day, which was just this past Sunday. And it is annually the Sunday before the traditional Sunday that we celebrate Mother's Day, which is this coming Sunday. And so between that and unfortunately, all the continued gun violence that is happening here in Jacksonville, in Ohio and just across our country, I thought about how much that trauma continues to retraumatize mothers each time you hear of another child who has lost their life to gun violence.


Crystal Turner

And so I wanted to do something for the moms there. And so we schedule some photo shoots for some moms. But more importantly, in the midst of scheduling that the Mikayla Bryant's story became the front page of all of the news, which was the 16 year old young lady who lost her life in a police involved shooting. Unfortunately, due to some family altercations that were taking place in the foster home that she resided in. And that led me to making some phone calls and emails and text messages to several community leaders and community organizations and people that I knew there and said, let's do an evening of prayer because I know that prayer definitely works.


Crystal Turner

Prayer has the ability to change things. And if the Bible says where you can get two or three gathered in a green, then we know all things are possible, and they were all willing to come in. And so this past Thursday evening at the City of Grace Church, which is on the North East Side myself and several spiritual faith leaders and community leaders, we all came together. And for an hour we just simply prayed over our bereaved mothers, over our politicians, our Mayor was there with us.


Crystal Turner

We prayed over our Mayor, we prayed for justice, and we prayed for restoration in our community. And we prayed over the city of Columbus. And the beauty of that evening is that we now have several other churches who are picking up the mantle and will be continuing to just simply do an hour of prayer that's open to the public as we just look for ways to connect and work towards healing our city and not just Columbus, but healing all of our cities from the continued gun violence that is plaguing many of our communities.


Branden Harvey

I genuinely did not know what your event that you had gone to was, and to hear that something like this exists is truly incredible. Like what a special thing to be a part of. What does it feel like to be a part of a community of other mothers who have experienced something that no mother ever wants to experience?


Crystal Turner

You know, Brandon, that is probably a very challenging question to ask simply because it is a group that you often hear people say you don't want to be a part of.


Branden Harvey

Okay.


Crystal Turner

However, the number of mothers who are now members of a group that is a forever group is growing so much more rapidly than we ever anticipated. But it is also a challenging group to be in because to acknowledge you're in this group means you're first acknowledging that something very tragic and unexpected has happened, and that is the loss of a child through gun violence. And so acknowledge that means that we are in a place now where the grieving process has already started. But we're acknowledging that this thing is real.


Crystal Turner

So it's kind of a double edged sword to be a part of this group.


Branden Harvey

Do you mind if we talk a little bit about the loss of your son and daughter? Because I know that that's such a big part of the advocacy work that you do today. Maybe you could take me back to what happened.


Crystal Turner

Sure. I first have to say that I am a mother of four adult children and a bonus mom to three adult children and grandmother to a beautifully blended family of 19 grandchildren.


Branden Harvey

Wow.


Crystal Turner

So life has been really interesting for me, however, two of those children, my 29 year old daughter, Janelle Harveston at that time and my 23 year old son, Daniel MacDonald, who continued to still live with us spiritually, were both shot and killed April 1, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio, in an act of domestic violence by my daughter's estranged husband, who is now serving a 66 to life and no chance of parole life sentence. And it is because of the loss of my two children that I first became what is now identified as a survivor of gun violence and an advocacy to work hard towards making sure the experience that I as a mother and my family has had in the very tragic and setting loss of two of my children that another mother coming behind me doesn't have to have that same type of experience because we know based on my experience, there are some things that we have the ability to change in our community.


Crystal Turner

And that is what I'm working towards and fighting for every day is to change the experience.


Branden Harvey

It's incredible that you have turned this grief into something that ensures that fewer people and hopefully no people have to experience this grief. And I'm curious, how quickly did you decide that that was something that you wanted to do? When did you decide to take that pain and turn it into purpose?


Crystal Turner

Well, I didn't decide. It kind of decided for me, literally. What happened was people who I know, unfortunately, found themselves in a very same or similar situation where someone they loved had lost their lives to gun violence and literally, friends, family and even strangers started reaching out to me because our story was such a public story because my daughter was a very successful daycare owner in Columbus, Ohio. She, in a short eight year period, had went from 124 hours daycare center to 524 hours daycare centers and has started a training center where she was helping those in the community who wanted to get into the field of child care, obtain the necessary education and background work needed to get into the field.


Crystal Turner

And she started this literally within months after graduating from Ohio State Summa cum laude, and she just became a successful young lady. So our story was one of those stories that whether we wanted to be or not, our family was in the limelight. And I literally said, okay, Crystal, what do you do with this, unfortunately, 15 minutes of fame that you now have, and with that. And like I said, the calls and the text messages and emails that I began to receive from the community, saying, my mom, my sister, my grandmother, my aunt, my friend has lost a child of gun violence, and we don't know how to support them.


Crystal Turner

And you just seem to be the most positive person given what you've been through. Can you help us? And that literally began the advocacy work and the work of giving back to the community because listening to their stories and honestly, Brandon, looking at my situation and as tragic as it may, sounds good, a lot of people, I am very grateful because there are some experiences that I have not had to have that other mothers have had to. I was very fortunate that I received a lot of support from the community.


Crystal Turner

There are hundreds and thousands of mothers who don't get that support who are not aware of the resources that are available to them in the community. And that's pretty much what I've been doing is being able to share what I know and give that back to the community. And one of the great organizations that I was able to connect with Is Moms Demanding Action and Everytown, and through them, they have been able to educate me more about the legislative side of gun safety and how I can use my very tragic experience to help our legislators make laws that will keep my community safe, as well as all of the communities across the United States, based on the experiences that myself and so many others have had, and in return with that, I've actually been able to introduce so many other gun survivors to this amazing organization, and we just keep growing and just keep doing some amazing work.


Crystal Turner

And we've been able to make very huge strides over the years.


Branden Harvey

I know that nothing could ever bring back your daughter or your son. But what does it feel like to get to be playing this role in making a difference in working with legislators with rallying moms together? What's that experience like for you?


Crystal Turner

I feel like every time I do it, I am actually honoring who my children were and the fact that there was a phrase that was said to me, and it was as many of us do in terms of the universe and whoever or whatever power we choose to serve. There are certain experiences that we all have. And we ask that question why? And for me, the answer given back was that their lives were necessary in order for us to bring about change. And so the change for me is just doing exactly what I'm doing is being able to take to our legislators an account of what my life has been like in the permanency of my change in losing my two children to gun violence, and how there are so many simple measures that we can do, such as we support the Self Defense Restoration Act, a landmark effort to repeal Florida so called standard ground law, and having it being urgent to our lawmakers to get this lifeless bill, the hearing that it deserves, because we understand that that bill is not a bill that we need.


Crystal Turner

And so being able to just take something that appears to be so simple as that, which is a very large thing, which means, again, we're not fighting and saying, I don't want anyone to own a gun because a gun has impacted my life. It is simply saying, can we be more safer with the gun? Can we make sure that our gun owners know how to properly store their guns, that they are getting the necessary training that they need to use a firearm, that if there are any previous things in their background, that suggests that maybe this individual should not own a gun, that we are removing that gun, and by doing so and not even necessarily let me change that, not removing the gun, but giving the necessary time to do the investigation, to see if this individual should have access to a gun, that in itself gives us the ability to save a life.


Crystal Turner

And if through my story, I can save one other family from experiencing what I've went through by having this conversation with not only just our lawmakers but another person, another family, our community, resource people. Then I feel like I've done what I've been called to do and saving a life.


Branden Harvey

What's been the most surprising thing to you as you've been doing advocacy work?


Crystal Turner

Wow. We are probably at the highest point of getting change done where our gun safety laws are. It is still very sometimes discouraging, especially when you are in the face of a lawmaker who seems to not hear your cry and not hear your cry simply because politically, it may not make sense for a party for me at the end of the day, when you see the residue of blood, the residue of gun hurt and pain from families and individuals, nobody's asking anybody. Are you Republican, independent, Democratic?


Crystal Turner

Nobody's asking those questions. All we see is people who are in pain, people who are hurting people whose lives have forever been changed and understanding or not understanding why elected officials, who we've elected in office to support us, to make sure that the communities we live in are safe, that it becomes such a challenge for them to just simply do the right thing. That's probably the biggest and most hurtful thing is to look at this year when we look at all of the lives that have been taken over the last year, doing the pandemic, when we look at what has happened at our capital, when we look at the mass shootings that continue to happen, yet our lawmakers still find excuses to justify why they are not on the side of right.


Crystal Turner

That is what hurts.


Branden Harvey

It reminds me of something that Shannon said when she and I were talking. I guess yesterday we were talking about this idea that what we really need is just elected officials that represent the will of the people. And right now, the elected officials represent an extreme view that doesn't represent the majority of Americans or the majority of people in their communities. And it is energizing to hear that there are so many people who are willing to put in the work to create that change like yourself, like other moms with moms demand.


Branden Harvey

And I am hopeful that we will see that change, and that frustration is only going to make the change more like Swift and broad, which is heartbreaking, that it has to happen that way. But I have no doubt that it will because of your work. And with that in mind, I know that the loss of your daughter and son was an act of domestic violence. And I also understand that the Pandemic has made the rates and experiences of domestic violence higher than ever. I know that you have a level of expertise on this that I don't have.


Branden Harvey

Can you tell me a little bit more about what we need to know? About how the pandemic is affecting gun violence.


Crystal Turner

Yeah, while COVID served as a way to slow down a lot of the other crime rates that happened or normally would happen. However, during COVID, in most cities across the country, we've seen an increase in not only shootings, but domestic violence related shootings because you have many more couples and individuals who now found themselves trapped in their homes during the pandemic with their abusers, who also had more access to guns during that time. And that's very worrisome when we look at the unprecedented increase in gun violence sales combined with the economic stress and the social isolation of Colvit gun violence increase.


Crystal Turner

So we know right now that on average, every month, there is approximately 53 women who are shot and killed by an intimate partner. When we look at that larger number, that means that nearly 1 million women across the United States alive today have reported being shot and killed or shot by their intimate partner. So copit has not slowed down that part. We also look at the fact that during Kobett's, access to guns made it five times more likely that an abusive partner would take the life of a female victim.


Crystal Turner

In this again, the epidemic kind of put a lot of women and men who were already in abusive relationships really put them in more harm's way and gave their intimate partners more of an opportunity to actually take their lives than ever before. And when we look at those numbers, we know also that predominantly a lot of that came from our black and Brown communities. When we look at how disproportionate the impact of the coronavirus and ongoing violence is happening in those communities as well, thank you.


Branden Harvey

That's so helpful to understand, and I think it can make us all more aware of the need for us to get involved and to make a difference on this another way that if someone is looking to get involved or.


Crystal Turner

You know, a mother who has been impacted by gun violence, my foundation, which is rerefused. Org. We have a peer support group that is called Mothers and Healings. It is for mothers who have lost children to gun violence. And we meet each month. And you can find that information on mothersandhillings, dot com of our meetings. And we invite and we join bereave mothers to join with us with other mothers who can help each other get through this process of grieving to healing and our new normal life without our children.


Branden Harvey

Kind of as a final question, I'm curious, what is something that you do feel hopeful about in regards to the progress on gun safety? Where do you feel a sense of hope?


Crystal Turner

I am just actually very hopeful and grateful to have GunSense Champions in our White House, President Biden and Vice President Harris are very big components and Champions of doing everything that they can, along with all of our elected officials to create legislation that just keeps our community safe. And that's really all we're asking. And I simply can close by just giving you this statement. You don't want to wait until gun violence impacts you and your family to get involved. That is not where you want to start when you have the ability to start right now, using your purpose, your gifts and talents that we have all been created with to simply make change.


Crystal Turner

Now, I waited until it got to me, but I now understand how important it is to make sure that because of my experience, I can use it so that another family doesn't have to have my experience. This is not a club, an organization, anything that you want to be a part of. I am grateful for the support and the people I have around me who have really changed an impact in my life and reminded me of why we all fight. And Daddy is simply because, unfortunately, there are so many more people who will come behind us.


Crystal Turner

But we have the ability based on what we know and the data supports that over 93% of the United States citizens want a safe community, we want a safe environment. And so I'm hopeful and grateful for that. And again, I would just simply say, don't wait until gun violence impacts you and your family before you get involved.


Branden Harvey

Crystal, thank you so much for your beautiful and important work, the way that you're advocating and the way that you're bringing more people into the fold to be a part of that. And I have no doubt that with people like you on the front lines that we will see change. Thank you.


Crystal Turner

Thank you, Branden.

Sponsors


Branden Harvey

I love Crystal's encouragement for all of us to take action before we need to. When we come back, Shannon is sharing some of the action steps that we can take to join in with the important work that Crystal and moms across the country are taking.


Branden Harvey

Sounds Good is sponsored by BetterHelp Therapy is amazing. If you've been a long time listener, it sounds good. You've heard me talk about going to counseling a lot, and you've heard our guests talk about it even more. The last year has been challenging for a lot of us, and we've made it through as something to celebrate.


Branden Harvey

But we're also going to start wrestling with new things and processing this new journey of what the second half of 2021 perhaps looks like and is more important than ever to be Proactive about taking care of ourselves. Better help makes it easy to get matched with your own licensed professional therapist, and all you have to do is answer a few questions and they'll get you matched and ready to start in under 48 hours. BetterHelp is more affordable than traditional offline counseling. Plus, you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions from anywhere in the world.


Branden Harvey

BetterHelp and I guess, and I want to help you start living a happier life today, just visit BetterHelp.com/good and join over 1 million people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. BetterHelp is offering a special offer for Sounds Good listeners. You get 10% off your first month at BetterHelp.com/good.

Branden Harvey and Shannon Watts


Branden Harvey

All right, Shannon, I am feeling hopeful again. I'm feeling encouraged. I'm feeling like it is perhaps truly possible to create change and that we've seen that over the last several years, your community has created change, and now I'm recognizing, oh, my gosh.


Branden Harvey

I want to be a part of this. So how do I and others who feel this way? How do we get involved? How do we join in the work that you're doing?


Shannon Watts

First of all, you can text the word READY 64433. And Moms Demand Action isn't just moms. It's not just women. It's mothers and others. We have grown to just be one of the largest organizations in the country that's doing grassroots work, and we welcome all caring Americans. And we also have Students Demand Action now. So if you again text the word READY 64433, a volunteer will call and plug you in to the work you're passionate about where you live. We also have Facebook pages for states and a national page.


Shannon Watts

We also have our Twitter handle is at @MomsDemand. We have @StudentsDemand as well, and then we're on Instagram. You can kind of find us on any social media platform that you hang out on.


Branden Harvey

Amazing. This is so perfect and so practical and actionable. Shannon, thank you just once again for the incredible work that you do and for inviting us all to be a part of it.


Shannon Watts

Thank you so much.

Outro


Branden Harvey

That's Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action and Crystal Turner, activist and founder of Mothers in Healing. You can learn more about Moms Demand Action at momsdemandaction.org and Mothers in Healing at mothersinhealing.com.


Branden Harvey

The easiest way to get started with Moms Demand Action in your community is to just text the word READY 64433. You can also visit Moms Demand Action's national or state specific Facebook pages or follow @MomsDemand on Twitter and Instagram.


Branden Harvey

If you're interested in diving into some more conversations about gun violence and grief and maybe even a sense of hope, we've got two older episodes from a few years ago that you might appreciate.


Branden Harvey

The first is with Joshua DuBois, who was President Obama's faith adviser. He shared the stories of being in the room with President Obama when the President was meeting with the parents who lost their children at Sandy Hook in the second episode was with Bonnie Kate and Max Zoghbi. Bonnie Kate was injured in the shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and shared the story of her recovery and also the love story that intertwined with that experience. You can find both of those episodes by just scrolling back through Sounds Good episodes.


Branden Harvey

Wherever you listen to podcasts this podcast was created by Good Good Good Good. At Good Good Good we help you feel more hopeful and do more good. You can find more good news and ways to make a difference in our weekly email newsletter, our beautiful print Goodnewspaper or online at goodgoodgood.co.


Branden Harvey

This episode was created by Kailey Thompson, Megan Burns and me, Branden Harvey. It was edited and sound designed by the team at Sounds On Studios. You can find out more about their work at soundonsoundoff.com


Branden Harvey

Please make sure to hit the follow button wherever you listen to podcasts so that you can get new episodes of Sounds Good delivered to your phone each Monday while you sleep. If you have a favorite episode of the show, share it on your Instagram stories to share the word about celebrating good news and taking good actions and with that, that is a wrap for this week's episode. Go out and take one tangible action to prevent gun violence and we'll be back next week with more good news and good actions.

Sound good?


Episode Details

May 10, 2021

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About Sounds Good

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Sounds Good is the weekly podcast that hosts hopeful conversations with optimists and world-changers about the headlines we can be hopeful about — and how you can get involved and make a difference.

Every week, Good Good Good founder Branden Harvey sits down with the people driving positive change against the world's greatest problems. Each episode will leave you with a sense of hope about the good in the world — and a sense of direction on how we can all be a part of that good. Episodes are released every Monday.

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